Sunday , Apr , 29 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Lakers, Suns meet at Staples Center for Game 4

(Sports Network) – Superstar Kobe Bryant and the seventh-seeded Los Angeles
Lakers try to even their first-round playoff series with the No. 2 Phoenix
Suns, as the clubs square off this afternoon at the Staples Center.

Bryant scored 45 points on 15-of-26 from the field, as the Lakers rallied for
a 95-89 victory over Phoenix in Game 3 of their Western Conference
quarterfinal series on Thursday at the Staples Center.

Kwame Brown scored 19 points for the Lakers, who still trail this best-of-
seven series 2-1. Lamar Odom posted 18 points and 16 rebounds in the win for
the Lakers, who rallied from a 17-point deficit in the opening quarter.

Amare Stoudemire notched 24 points and 10 boards for Phoenix, while Leandro
Barbosa scored 20 points off the bench and reigning MVP Steve Nash ended with
10 points and 13 assists in defeat.

Phoenix picked up victories in Games 1 and 2 at US Airways Center. In the
series opener, Barbosa came off the bench and erupted for 26 points to lead
the Suns past the Lakers, 95-87. In Game 2, Barbosa poured in 26 points as
Phoenix embarrassed the Lakers, 126-98.

Game 5 of this best-of-seven series is scheduled to be played on Wednesday at
US Airways Center.

Phoenix is 6-4 in its last 10 Game 4s in the postseason, while the Lakers have
won 14 of their last 15 Game 4s.

There is a lot of playoff history between the Lakers and Suns, as these teams
have met 10 times in the postseason. The Lakers have won seven of the 10
series, while the clubs have split four meetings in first round.

The Lakers knocked out the Suns in the opening round of the playoffs in 1970
and 1985, while Phoenix eliminated LA in 1993 and 2006. The Lakers won
semifinal series over the Suns in 1980, 1982 and 2000 and conference final
sets in 1984 and 1989.

Besides their first round wins over LA in 1993 and 2006, the Suns also
picked up a playoff series win over the Lakers in the 1990 conference

Last season, the Lakers blew a 3-1 lead in the first round against Phoenix.
They fell in seven contests and were eliminated in the opening round for the
first time since 1996, when they lost in four games, 3-1, to the Houston

The Suns, who won their third straight Pacific Division title during the
regular season, have been eliminated in the Western Conference finals two
consecutive years. Phoenix lost in six games to the San Antonio Spurs in 2005,
and fell in six last year to the Dallas Mavericks.

The last time the Suns were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs was
in 2002-03, when they lost to San Antonio in six games, 4-2.

Bryant has made his second trip to the postseason without All-Star center
Shaquille O’Neal, who was traded to Miami in July 2004, by his side. A nine-
time All-Star, Bryant is still trying to prove that he can carry a team solo
in the postseason.

The 28-year-old Bryant won three championships with O’Neal and head
coach Phil Jackson (1999, 2000, 2001). Jackson has won nine championship rings
as a coach. He led the Lakers to three titles in his first four years in LA,
and guided the Chicago Bulls to six championships.